Q: I took in new tenants at a house I own in May. They signed a 12-month fixed term tenancy agreement and all was well for two months. Then in July and August they failed to pay the rent until reminded. However, since then no rent has been paid and they don’t answer calls. Should I serve a Section 21 notice for possession?
A: Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (as amended) provides a no fault procedure (subject to the notice being valid) by which a landlord can regain possession by giving at least two months’ notice to the tenant to vacate the property.
You cannot serve a Section 21 Notice either within 4 months of commencement of the tenancy or one which is to expire in advance of the end of the fixed term period. However, under Section 8 of the above Act, where there are arrears rent of at least two months, a notice can be served (Form 3) giving your tenants 14 days to discharge the arrears, failing which proceedings can then be issued for a hearing for an order for possession of the property and also a money judgment for the sum outstanding.
If there are at least two months arrears outstanding at the date the Section 8 Notice is served and at least two months arrears at the date of the hearing, the Court must make an order for possession under that mandatory ground. If they do clear the arrears or reduce them to less than two months then they can stay. You should retain evidence of the date of service of the notice as this will need to be produced to the court.